Thoughts on Networking…A Very Personal View By One Who Knows

Greetings from Brighton

We’re hurtling head long towards the end of the year.  Merry Christmas and a very prosperous and peaceful New Year to all ye fellow business people out there – past and present customers, and those yet to darken my door and give me money for doing something I love.

2018 has been an amazing year for me: my biggest and best yet.  Why?  Because I’ve optimised my site to the max, I have a great deal of repeat business, and I’ve had loads of referrals.

I’ve worked a lot of weekends and as an early morning person, been up with the proverbial larks to get stuff done.  However, much of my business comes from…NETWORKING.

How about you?

As someone who runs networking events, attends a fair few and knows how to follow up properly from them (more later),  I thought that you may – or may not – find it useful to know what, in my experience works, and what doesn’t work.  At all.  Please don’t do the “what doesn’t work stuff”, that’s not good.

I’ve had an interesting year of networking.  Mostly good.  A few interesting moments, too.

This isn’t a “top tips” or “5 ways to…” or anything like that.  Most blogs should be written in this give-away-information style if you want to get found on the tinterweb.  However, indulge me, do.

Networking: It’s My Thing.

For the last five or so years I’ve been running Third Friday Brighton at the Pitcher and Piano near the seafront, and for the last three and a half years, Second Friday Hove, at the deeply wonderful Watchmaker’s Arms, in Goldstone Villas, Hove.  Both these events are part of the First Friday Network, founded 14 or so years ago by a talented graphic designer and branding expert called Steve Wilson, based in Chichester.  Steve is great, and very supportive.

There are a fair few First Friday Networks in and around the South and they’re all very good: very friendly, informal and FREE.

Loving the Networking

I’ll be upfront here and say that I love, love, love running these events.  Really, I do.  They’re quite hard work, you have to be “up”.  What I mean is, friendly and welcoming even when you feel like you’d rather be watching daytime TV or cleaning the oven.  Also, I have to maintain and add to a database, send regular newsletters and lately I’ve been organising for food to be served.

However, even if I’m feeling antisocial, which isn’t often, meeting interesting people, socialising and making sure that everyone has a good time is a thing of marvellousness.  Long may it continue.

It’s making a small difference in our local business community and that can only be good for our economy.

One-hit Wonders

I can always, always tell when someone comes along to networking that I will never, ever see again.  Apart from my spidey senses kicking in, one-time networkers tend to over-estimate what they can achieve in terms of “lead generation”.

Good networking is about building long-lasting and stable working relationships, even friendships.  You need to keep coming along.  On a regular basis.

By the way, I don’t get paid for running Second and Third Friday.  In fact, I pay an annual fee for each event but that’s easily do-able and enables me to expand my network massively.  I’m now known as someone who runs friendly networking events.

Friendly, you say?

Yes.  But only if this happens:

It helps if you actually have a business. 

Yes, try having something to promote that will genuinely engage and interest other people.  I’ve had a few people come along this year (and other years) purely interested in getting out of the house to meet some “vibrant young people”.

Whilst other clubs and gatherings cater for the lonely, I’m sorry but Second and Third Friday are not for you.  You’ll embarrass yourself and other people.  And, it will be me that gets the complaint emails.

Also, funnily enough I’m not keen on:

People who insult my business.

Did you know – and why indeed would you know – that I’m a fairly successful and committed Utility Warehouse Distributor?  Despite 25 years plus as a Sales Director and nearly 10 years’ experience as a copy and website content writer, UW is the best thing I have ever done in my life.

I save people loads of money, time and bother (they draw all your bills together on one supplier).   Oh yes, they’re multi award-winning, too.

So…don’t insult UW and then discover that I run a networking event you would like to attend.  If you use foul language about this business, or Sussex Copywriting Services, and then expect to come along to one of my events the answer will be…No.

Business is actually very easy. People make life difficult.  Don’t be one of those rude weird people.  OK?

OK, a few other slightly less controversial tips:

Come on.  Have business cards printed

“Hey, I met a fabulous hat designer at Second Friday and I’d like to buy one of her hats.  But she didn’t have a business card and I can’t remember who she is” could be one of the saddest things ever ever.

Why?  Because you have lost a customer for your lovely headpiece.  Your fedora has failed.  Your boater has bombed.   You are a milliner manqué

Having a business cards with readable writing, please (I’m 104 years old), elevates you to the position of a real person who takes their business and their marketing seriously.  Also, it means that I can put your email on my database quickly and easily so that you can come to lots of other meetings.

You’ll Need a Website

Ideally, you should have a website.  I do however know people who can create a bee-yoo-tiful site for you.  It doesn’t have to be fancy pants but if you’re a digital marketer without a website people will think you’re a bit crap.  If you run social media campaigns and you’re sans website, you’ve lost a bit of credibility right from the get go.  See what I mean?

Other thoughts...

Photographers:  Bring along your portfolio.  An album with your images printed out, if you please.  Only ONE photographer in five years has done this.  As a writer, I can’t actually print out stuff to bring along – there’s too much for a start, and I don’t know what you’re into.

But those fine folks who take wonderful pictures?  Go on, it will be very good for your business.

Don’t bring food and offer samples.  That’s so disrespectful to the people running the bar so don’t do it.  If they spot you doing this they will ask you to leave.

Try to arrive early.  There’s something about birds and worms here but I resist cliches like the plague, of course.

Follow Up Properly

No, people won’t think you’re pushy.  No, they won’t judge you as a “sales person” for sending a polite email expressing genuine interest in their business and asking them to meet you for a coffee.

I get business from networking because I send direct emails like this:

“Hello, J

It was great to meet you at Third Friday Brighton last week and I hope you enjoyed the event.  I do hope that you will keep coming along etc etc…As a website content writer, I’ve had a good look through your website and it looks great. 

I hope you don’t mind, but I’ve got some ideas that could make it sparkle a little bit more.

Also, I don’t meet many people in business who make iron railings for a living.  In fact, you’re the only person and as someone who organises networking events, I’d like to recommend you to other people in my network.  How are you fixed on (date) at (time)? 

Fancy a posh cup of coffee at the Hotel du Vin?”

Or something like that. Simple, to the point.  Asking for a meeting and showing a genuine interest in what they do and how they do it.  

And then keep doing it.

Oh yes, what else?

  • Don’t get too pissed.  It’s a pub but it’s still not a good look.
  • Don’t turn up in a tiny mini skirt.  Not a good look on men, in general, and on women:  come on ladies: it’s a BUSINESS NETWORKING EVENT, not a nightclub.  Your lack of judgement is showing.  Leave your compulsion to show off your body to another time.
  • Do show authentic interest in the people you meet.
  • But…Don’t aggressively fire questions at people.  They are not passing some sort of ridiculous “test”.

And finally…

  • Don’t put fizzy powder up your nose in the toilets.  You know who you are and I can tell.  I’m quite smart, you know.

So, all that remains, as they say, is for me to make a graceful exit.  If you found this blog useful, tell all your friends.  If you didn’t – you ain’t seen me, right?

Merry Christmas.

Susan Beckingham

Purveyor of tales, narratives and other wordy stuff.





8 Words that Describe Brighton? Are You Sure?

As a keen member of the Brighton Chamber of Commerce, I often attend their debates.  Apart from the opportunity to meet new people and catch up with my existing networking contacts (there’s wine involved mostly), the subject matters are often exceedingly interesting – sometimes even controversial.  And they’re free, which is always a bonus.

So, it was with a degree of anticip…ation that I sallied forth in June to a debate called “The Future of Business in Brighton”, chaired by the charming, erudite Miranda Birch with a selection of jolly nice people on the panel.

I was particularly taken with the early part of proceedings: what words best sum up our city of Brighton and Hove? This question was offered to the audience (every seat was taken, by the way) and it solicited some interesting responses.  With your indulgence, as a self-employed Brighton resident of some 20 years, I would for what it’s worth like to offer my opinion, as some of these surprised me a little bit.  And some didn’t.

Here are just some of the definitions suggested by other Chamber members:


That’s for sure.  You can’t move for “creatives”; you can’t even leave the house for tripping over “creatives”.  I’m one of them.  Admittedly, my skills are nowhere near as cool as those of a graphic designer or web developer but there are still swathes of us out there offering you words, images and other marvellous technical stuff.

Seriously, we ARE a very creative city and not just in the digital arts: Brighton teems with musicians, actors, comedians and artists.  Why? It’s just the way it’s always been; a place full of certain types of people simply attracts other people with the same sorts of skills, perhaps.  It certainly makes for lively discussions at networking events.


Oh yes.  This word should nearly always be tacked on to “creative” for surely there is nowhere like Brighton to find the boom and bust culture that is our freelance economy.  Too much work to cope with, when you’re working 15 hour days…then not enough work to pay the rent.

What does this mean, though?  You (yes, this means you) need to get regular, retained work, get a reasonable fee for it and, as uncomfortable as it may sound, you need to be good.  If you’re just average, your competitors will get the job the next time it becomes available.

Brighton is however a fabulous place in which to set up shop.  I couldn’t think of a better place to have client meetings than the café next to the fountain at the Steine on a sunny day.  Lovely.


See above.  Again.

Goodness me, can someone please explain how people on average Brighton wages actually afford to live here?  Rents are sky high where I live (yeah, ok, it’s Kemptown) but even further out you’re looking at silly money just to rent a one bedroom flat.  And how on earth do people manage to buy property?

The consideration of why Brighton is so expensive was a key part of the debate.  The general view is that everything to the south of our city is water and unless I’ve missed something, building houses and starting businesses in the Channel isn’t going to happen anytime soon.   And, the South Downs to the north is a protected National Park.  We’re compressed.  There’s less space.  This makes entirely good sense.  This, and perhaps the fact that house prices in London have driven people out to places that are commutable – Brighton, perhaps.


Is Brighton a caring place?  Yes, I think so.  There’s a good community spirit here, I think.  People talk to each other in pubs, they greet each other when they’re out on walks and, what I particularly like, we thank our lovely bus drivers for taking us from A to Z.  I’m still waiting for a jolly “mind how you go!” from one of the drivers to make my life complete.

Tolerant and Inclusive

Well, of course.  We live in a veritable bubble of tolerance here.  Things I have seen in the last week:

  • A drag queen roller blading on the seafront esplanade. Nobody really took much notice.
  • A man out walking his pot-bellied pig. This did attract a fair few sideways glances, to be fair.
  • Numerous openly gay couples of both genders walking hand in hand.

Love of course, doesn’t discriminate and neither, it seems, do we.  Brighton was the first city to hold a gay marriage and the amazing Brighton Pride hardly needs an introduction or explanation.  We take our tolerance for granted, shrugging our shoulders to one another, “it’s Brighton, isn’t it?”


Now this word attracted a bit of comment because an audience member took umbrage (politely of course) and calmly asked how many black or Asian faces there were in the room.  There were almost none.  So, the argument went, it’s all very well to be super-tolerant when you have almost nothing to be tolerant of.

Brighton and Hove, is in my opinion, the ideal place to live but it is NOT a diverse city of ethnic cultures – far from it, in fact.  Having been born in Lewisham, I grew up in south east London and believe me, in comparison to the mix of races, backgrounds and cultures on offer there – which I almost didn’t notice as I took it for granted – when it comes to a multi-coloured, multi-race population,  we are nowhere.


Not sure if this is an actual word but sure, we’re not particularly corporate in Brighton, are we?

Very formally dressed, before I saw the light and moved down here, I used to commute to central London and now I don’t even own a suit.  People are pretty relaxed down here and that’s all to the good.

Or, have a missed something and are the good folks of American Express going to have a word with me?


Goodness me, have you BEEN to the Brighton Fringe Festival?  It’s just amazingly experimental, and full of whacky performances and theatre productions which would not otherwise see the light of day.

The architecture and style here is excellent, too.  The fresh, light and airy Jubilee Library nearly won a Stirling prize a few years ago and whether you love or hate the i360, you’ve got to admit that it’s certainly an example of someone pushing the design envelope.

What else was mentioned during the debate?  We’re also Productive (some of us), Hopeful and sometimes, as a city, we have Too Much Personality, although I’m not sure a city can ever have too much personality if it wants to carry on being the best place in the world to live ever ever ever.

Finally?  The subject for another blog perhaps:  Brighton-born, or did you just move here?  This, too, is A Thing.  Most of us weren’t born here, or so it seems.  But we love it just the same.


Embracing the Unknown

If you’re going to this year’s Brighton Chamber of Commerce Summit in October, you’ll be aware that it has an intriguing theme: “Embracing the Unknown”.  As change has been a feature in my business and commercial life over the past few years, I thought that I’d pen some words on the subject.

Doing new stuff is hard.  Really hard.  Human beings don’t cope very well with change. Why? Because we all fear failure.  Failure (or the fear of it) stalks us, it follows us around.

Sometimes I think that eventually, somehow, I’m going to be caught out. Uncovered.  People will realise that I’m just a bit, well, rubbish. But it’s not true.

As a copywriter, I get to grips with the unknown all the time: new industry sectors, tough deadlines, very challenging projects.  Sometimes I wonder if I actually can write 350 words on coffee tables, or about commercial carpet cleaning.  But I always do.

How do I do this?  Here’s some advice, which I hope you’ll find useful:

  1. Time for some visualisation, people. Picture yourself succeeding.  What does success look like?  A tough work assignment may be way outside your comfort zone, but so what?  Get your imagination working overtime: imagine the email or phone call from your client to congratulate you on a job well done.  Create in your mind that fantastic piece of work in front of you, something that you’re exceptionally proud of.
  1. Understand where these feelings have come from. OK, sorry but it’s probably your Mum and Dad or a particularly strict teacher at school but them’s the breaks, folks. You can’t do anything about the past but you can be a different person now and you don’t have to be scared. You CAN and you WILL.
  1. You are better than you think you are. Oh, yes you are. You wouldn’t have a business unless you were good at what you do.  The fear of messing up stalks us all so break down the “unknown” bit of whatever you’re facing into more manageable chunks.  Start with the easy bits.  It’s not that bad now, is it?
  1. You’ve already done lots of things for the first time. And, you didn’t die.  You left home, got a job, started a business, went on holiday on your own, learnt to dance the Argentine tango.  The list is literally endless of all the unknown things in your life with which you are familiar.  OK, maybe not the tango.
  1. Think to yourself: what’s the worst thing that can happen? None of us know what the future holds, so a Plan B may be helpful here. It’s also worth thinking about what could happen if you don’t face the unknown:  what could you lose, for example, if you turn down the opportunity to move to a new country, or even a new City?
  1. Finally – and I’m not being weird here – embrace failure. Failure helps us learn and grow and is an inevitable part of life.  The more you fail, the more you succeed.  Understand that the unknown is just something that we don’t know yet.  It may work and it may not.  But it’s always worth trying.




How to be Perfect (at SEO. Hint: It involves Content)

Greetings, everyone out there in online content world.

OK. I promise to use the expression “Content is King” only once throughout this entire article. It’s an increasingly clichéd term that’s even driving content writers a bit potty, although they make their living this way and perk up no end whenever anyone mentions it.

However, you’ve got to get with the programme if you want to have a website that works for you. What I mean by “works”? Well, a website generating good quality enquiries that you convert into customers is a thing of beauty and I think that it takes a degree of knowledge, some money (maybe, OK probably, OK yes definitely) and lots of regular input and upkeep.

Being found and indexed on the internet used to be easy. You could stuff your site with keywords, buy create lots of cheap and nasty links to other sites and generally get up to all sorts of webby-style shenanigans that got you higher up the rankings than your competition.

No longer. Google now uses over 200 different algorithms to rank websites. Nobody knows exactly what they are because they don’t tell us – OK, they tell us some of them but not all, as they like to divide and conquer a bit, but here’s the current low-down on how to do it right:

Get your site developed by a professional if you can. You may want to speak to Richard Russell on 07403 202 601, he really knows his stuff. Just as natural language follows certain grammatical rules, websites are also built using certain languages which need to follow similar legitimate structures. Try putting it through (an independent assessor of websites) to check for “good semantic mark up”. The fewer errors, the more Google approves. Fact.

Make sure that your images have your keywords on them (alt text).

Then (and this is where Content starts to become important)…

Make sure that you’ve done your research on the words people use to find your services.

Try to include your keywords and your location into your URL. Trust me on this one.

Use good header text (usually the title of an article at the top of your page); this so-called H1 text is seized on by Google who use it to determine what your page is all about and they’ll index the page accordingly.

Put your target keywords for each page into your page title and remember to keep it short. Each title needs to be relevant to its subject with no more than 70 characters. With me so far?

Write your content. Each page needs to contain between 300-500 words and must be:

Relevant to its subject.
Well written, with excellent grammar, correct word order and no spelling errors
Regularly updated
Created in such a way to speak to your target audience
Leading the user to contact you through subtle Calls to Action

Make sure that publish articles on a blog ideally every two weeks. A well written blog should be part of your SEO strategy it’s new, original content and yes, you’ve guessed it, Google really likes it!

Search engines send out spidery crawly things on reconnaissance missions every few weeks to find legitimate websites, ie those which support good quality businesses and yes, great NEW content means more or less everything.

Copy content from another site or write it badly and like a plane passing over your frantically waved flag on a desert island, search engines won’t see you.

All a bit too much? You could ask a professional team of people to do all this for you. Give me a call to find out more. I’m not perfect, but I sure am a perfectionist.

Susan Beckingham
Sussex Copywriting Services
m: 07816 684 756


It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like…


So how did that happen?  Last week it was the middle of April and yesterday was late October, so now I find myself with literally days to go before Christmas, working to tight deadlines and wondering if I’m going to get everything done.  This year I have been…lax.  I normally do all my Crimbo shopping well in advance but lordy lordy how useless am I this year?  You don’t have to answer that but believe me there is uselessness aplenty this year.

Anyway, another blog not related to content writing at all.  Hurrah I hear you say.  This one’s about Christmas.

My goodness me how I love the festive season.  I guess it goes back to being a child and having parents who loved Christmas, too.  So, how do I love thee?  Let me count the ways:

Christmas trees.  Honestly, what’s not to love.  A real tree, with pure white fairy lights which makes the room all lovely and festive. It smells gorgeous and has presents underneath it.  Gives a warm glow, or is that the sherry I only drink once a year?

Sausage rolls.  God, I love these.  Warmed up in the oven, they taste of Christmas.  Similarly, satsumas, brazil nuts in their shells and chocolate coins.

Christmas telly.  BBC, take a bow.  ITV, really don’t bother (well, please bother with Downton Abbey, I love that)

Carols from Kings.  A pure unalloyed joy and it makes me cry – in a good way.

The Christmas Eve Tom and Jerry.  What do you mean you’ve not seen it?  Go and buy it AT ONCE.

Christmas Eve in general.  Somehow it’s a magical sparkly day and needs to involve candles, a glass of wine, a prayer for those we have loved and lost (my Dad) and fish pie for some reason.

Presents.  Of course.  Getting great presents is a joy – I got a television once – but giving them and then seeing the person in question using it and enjoying what you bought them is just great.

Board games.  Our family has a no telly rule on Christmas Day (yes, I know I’m contradicting myself) and we like to play silly games.  I even like Scrabble.

The food.  My sister makes delicious canapes that we eat before our big meal. Yum.  Also, those sausages wrapped in bacon are pretty sensational, aren’t they?

Christmas music.  OK, not if you work in a shop.

I love it when it gets dark early.

I love the routine.

I love it all.

Merry Christmas to one and all.





Failing to Plan, Planning to Fail?

I love a good networking do.  Once I was afraid I was petrified, kept thinking I could never actually go to one as it meant walking up to people, flashing my winning smile and engaging them in witty banter.  People I’d never met before! This was never going to be that easy because I’m a) British, b) a bit posh and c) rather shy, underneath the confident way I hope I come across.  I keep thinking that someone will actually expose the real me one day but so far I think I’ve got away with it.

Gratuitous picture to illustrate SHYNESS

Anyhoo, this blog isn’t necessarily about networking, although it’s been on my mind in the last couple of days and I’m somewhat distracted. No names no pack drill.

I often ask fellow business owner networkers who they sell to (and yes, I know it’s “to whom they sell”. Shut up, already) but this often leads to discombobulation.  Why wouldn’t you promote your services to anyone who’ll have them? After all, it’s income, whichever way.

Except it’s not.  Why sell lots of small pieces of business when one big chunky one represents the same amount of income with massively less effort?  And what sort of company or individual is most likely to write large cheques?  Which sector tends to be the most responsive?  And why?  You know that you need to know this.

So OK.  Have you done a Business Plan? Hmmmm?

I meet lots of people at networking dos who haven’t and sometimes (not you, of course) you can tell.  A business plan is an essential tool because:

  • It will enable you to describe accurately your business to customers, backers, suppliers and competitors.
  • It helps you focus on what you’re doing and how you’re planning to do it
  • It will help you identify: your skills, your service offering, your market, your segmented market (which bits of your service you want to sell to which sectors), your USPs
  • you can establish the appropriate ways to promote your business, broken down into stages with time frames attached.
  • It will get you funding, if you need it. And yes, the banks are still lending.  They lent money to me because they really liked my plan.

A good business plan is a living document. You’ll be able to compare where you are now with a) where you thought you would be and b) where you want to be.

Oh Dear Now I Feel Baaaaad (This is me being you.  It’s called role play)


Solution Ahoy

OK.  I will. I write business plans for people.  I’ve written three of my own and several for my clients.  I’ve got 25 years oh God I’m so old 20 years’ experience in sales and marketing and I’m very good at not only turning your ideas into well written, documented, tangible stuff, I can help you uncover aspects of your business you never knew existed, new people to sell to and most importantly…ways in which you can reach and sell to them.

I offer a series of intensive one-to-one sessions at which I ask you lots of penetrating questions, whilst looking at you over the top of my blingy reading glasses.  Worth the price of admission alone, I think.


I’ve got documents to email you in advance of each of our meetings with tips on how to research your market, how to work out your profit margins, break-even levels, everything everything everything.  I can’t be your financial-guru-soothsayer – you’ll have to do your own projections –  but everything else…sorted.

There’s a certain way to lay out business plans; ignore the templates on the internet, they’re just annoying. I, Susan Beckingham, hand-holder extraordinaire have the fluffy-cloud, 24-carat template that even God complimented me on the other day.  I made up that last bit.

The finished result will be astonishingly useful. You can show it to your bank manager, potential business partners, affiliates and associates, your Mum but chiefly it’ll be the best way to tell the story of how you intend to run your business and ultimately, to earn more money.

Anyone fancy earning more money?

By the way, I can’t publish this blog without acknowledging the lovely Su Shanson in all of this, who is now a good friend.  Thank you, Su.  Thank you so much.

Susan Beckingham is a copywriter who knows about business.  She writes business and marketing plans for people.  Give her a call on on 01273 721 306.







A Fan Letter From Brighton.

Dear Mr Fellowes

Re: Downton Abbey

I’m just writing to let you know just how much I love you.  Indeed, such is my adoration I’m coming round to your house to lick your face.

The early part of the 20th Century was surely a period of astonishing social change, a bridge between the old world and the new.   When we first met Robert Grantham et al, life seemed to run along the same lines as it had for centuries; roles and places in society were unchanged, but by 1920 hardly a single aspect of life had gone unchallenged, I guess due in no small part to a devastating war.  Ah, how I love thee – let me count the ways:

I love that the folks above and below stairs are so totally intertwined in each other’s lives and that although there are strict hierarchical rules, even in how they address each other, there is mutual respect and kindness.

I love the fact that you’ve modelled the Earl of Grantham on your father and that he’s such a fine chap, kind to his servants and slow to condemn.

I want Matthew and Mary to be totally loved up forever and to have lots of  babies.  Please make this so.  Their scenes together make me go all misty eyed.

Similarly, Anna and John Bates.  I want to be like Anna, she’s such a good person.

I love Thomas.  And O‘Brien.  The actors who play them inject menace and resentment into their portrayals in equal measure and they are delicious.

I’m rather keen on social history so your astonishing attention to detail makes me very happy indeed. I love that certain characters embrace change, while others keep it at arm’s length for as long as they can.

I love Lady Edith and how life never quite deals her a full hand. She’s certainly the unluckiest of the Crawley sisters and one of the others has died.

I’m slightly in love with Matthew Crawley.  I may write to him, too, in a non-stalkerish way.








Please say “thank you” on behalf of the women in Britain for the gorgeous clothes and jewellery.  Although it pains me to say it, I just need to hear the first bar of the signature tune for my inner girlie to be released and run around unchecked for an hour or so.

I love the fact that Branson Tom Branson has at last embraced the family he has married into and that they’ve accepted him, too – well, nearly.

The music.  Lots of strings. Lush. Take a bow, John Lunn.

I also love the script, it’s so utterly engaging and precise.  You’ve given Maggie Smith all the best lines but her acting without words underlines her brilliance. I recall her slight stumble whilst crossing the hall after Sybil’s death, which spoke a great deal of her grief for a lost granddaughter. Do not let her leave the series. Ever.

I want to live at Highclere Castle.  Noone will notice if I sneak in, will they?

Oh, and there’s a Christmas Day episode, you say? Joy unbounded.

Lots of love,

Susan xxx

PS: I forgive you for “Titanic”.

PPS: Next week I won’t be writing to you as I need to blog about copy and content writing again.  Sorry about that.


A Few More Favourite Words of Marvellousness

A recent missive on my top 10 favourite words prompted three nice hundreds of compliments to come flooding in and as I’m inclined to please, I thought you’d like some more. English is a moveable feast, full of words from other cultures and periods in history; new words appear in the OED every year, some of which outrage me but that’s a blog for another time.

Tiny History Stuff

Until about the 12th  Century, we spoke and wrote ye olde Englishe; it looks and sounds like nothing  we could remotely understand today.  It’s lovely to listen to, though.  Very mellifluous.

Middle English spanned 1100 to 1500.  Part vernacular and Norman French (thanks, Mr William the Conk), if you ever got to grips with The Canterbury Tales (good) or any Medieval tales of derring-do (ghastly), that’s ye lingo in whiche it were writte.

Shakespeare’s plays are written in Modern English.  Oh yes they are.  From the 16th Century onwards the Great Vowel Shift and the Renaissance chucked new pronunciation and lots of new words into our language. We even had our first dictionary published, surely a fairly slim volume and probably without floccinaucinihilipilification. You’re still getting over Shakespeare’s plays being modern English, aren’t you?

The lovely melting pot that is our English language explains why I like…

Quidnunc. How blimmin’ marvellous is this word?  It means one who gossips.

Meander. Pretty.

Frippet – a flighty young woman prone to showing off, similar to flibbertigibbet, I guess. Frippet is probably where frippery comes from.

Note: if you’ve ever asked yourself what the word is for a parchment on which the original text has been wholly or partially erased, then overwritten by another, wonder no more – it’s palimpsest, but you must use it in no other context.  I am beside myself with joy at this unbelievably specific definition.

Ripple.  A very small wave.  And a chocolate bar.

We’ve got some jolly odd words, too.  Take oxter, for example: not the armpit but the space under the arm.  Weird, but good.

Here’s the thing: most Sunday mornings I am a Tatterdemalion: a person with tattered clothing or of unkempt appearance. Nice.

Comely. This slightly sleazy word  rolls around the tongue, putting me in mind of a buxom young woman with a piece of straw hanging out of the side of her mouth, tempting young farmers into the way of the flesh. On hay bales.

Lissom and lithe are also somewhat post-watershed.

I love sepulchral, or pertaining to the tomb, as I think this wonderful word reflects our erstwhile (another good word) obsession with death and dying. I don’t see an immediate future use for it, though.

You could call my career serendipitous, finding something nice while looking for something else; similarly the noun serendipity.  It’s happy word, it  evokes smiling angels and rosy-cheeked cherubs.

And, who doesn’t love the word imbroglio, meaning an altercation or complicated situation? Please may we bring it back into everyday use?

Oh, I could do this all day.  There are loads more but you’ve probably got things to do.  I’ve got crisp, velvety, euphonious purple prose to write for websites so I’d better get on.  


Are you Content with your Content?

Or…why you need a web content writer.

There are some stonkingly bad websites out there.  Fear of being sued offending people prevents me from showing you examples but I’m sure you’ve seen a few.  Why are they bad, though? What provokes an almost immediate Back-To-the-List-of- Dreams reaction?

I’ve done a bit of research on web browsing behaviour: people spend a matter of seconds scanning a home page and if it’s sloppy or not laid out clearly, they’re orf.  I have issues with the colour pink as well, but that’s just me.  I also have ishooos with Trick or Treat and the X Factor.

Anyhoo, what else is a turn-off? You’ve guessed it – take the rest of the day off – it’s the way the content has been put together.

Writing for the web is quite unlike any other medium.  Websites need relatively short, punchy sentences; paragraphs mustn’t be too long; you need text that’s relevant, appropriate and clear; each page should focus entirely on a defined subject and not ramble on.  In short, we require clarity and precision. And…unless you’re a web content writer, you may struggle.

Question: If you’ve ever received promotional material with mistakes therein, what did you do with it? It’s the same with a badly written website,  instead of the round circular thing under your desk, visitors “bounce” back to search engine listings.

You’re a professional so I’m assuming that you’d like your website a) to reflect your company’s high standards and b) to be written in a style to appeal to your customers.

Don’t worry, be happy.  Help is at hand and here’s why (shameless promotion approaching) Sussex Copywriting Services is the company for you.  So, what’s my USP, then?

My background.  I’ve spent over 20 years (OK, nearly 25) in b2b sales.  I’ve sat with MDs, CEOs and senior partners and asked them questions:

What are your objectives? Why?

What’s your best selling service? Why?

What’s your target market? What are your USPs?

(Have you got any Viscount biscuits?)

I had about an hour each time to get the right information out of people and to demonstrate that I’d listened properly.  Then I had to create persuasive written proposals with the “problem” solved by a “solution”.  Oh, and they had to be precise, easy to read and jargon-free.  As you can imagine, I got rather good at doing this.  I’m still good.


Search engine optimisation.  Being found on the internet. The Dark Art.  Except that it isn’t, really.

Google and Bing have gone all posh.  If you stuff your text with keywords, their super spidey senses will ignore you or consider your site as SPAM.  In brief , SEO is about:

A well laid out site (try looking up “good semantic markup”)

Good quality links back to your website

Internal links

Appropriate keywords

A presence on Twitter and Facebook (Google + and Google maps don’t do any harm, either.  LinkedIn, too)

Appropriate page and header descriptions – no more than about 70 characters and each one different.  And, most of all…

Well written, accurate and relevant content.  Your site needs engaging text and you need to update it regularly with refreshed content, articles, newsletters and blogs. I can’t over-emphasise this.  OK, I can.

I know how to write so that search engines will find and index your site; while you’re focusing on growing your business I’ll take care of updating your content. I’ll even research the best keywords for your industry.

And…I’ll write in a style and tone that your target audience will like.

And relax.

Chillax, in fact. Don your Slanket and bed socks, safe in the knowledge that Sussex Copywriting Services is really rather splendid.  A bit like having lots of clean socks in the drawer or clean sheets night.  Give me a call on 01273 721 306, let’s discuss words.





“Heads Up”: Phrases to, like, Avoid?

To quote the great philosopher Len Goodman, when it comes to the English language “I sometimes feel like I’m a cup of tea in a world of lattes” (Strictly Come Dancing, October, 2012).  Being a wordy-type person means that I have to  express concepts clearly and without…fluff.

Here’s a list of phrases which set my teeth on edge. I wonder if you agree?

Business jargon  such as added value, turn-key solution and low-hanging fruit.  If you’ve played b******* bingo – see here for details – you’ll feel my pain here.  Also, where did skills set come from?  Isn’t it just skills?

People who start a sentence by saying  “with respect…” will, more than likely, proceed to insult you but because they’ve given themselves permission to do so that makes it all OK, apparently.

Reach out. It appears that nobody actually calls or emails anyone anymore, especially in the States.  They “reach out” to you.  If anyone tries reaching out to me, I’ll move out of the way.

Similarly, touch base.  P’don?

Om nom nom, used by people to describe good food, mainly on tinterweb forums.  Om nom nom makes me feel slightly ill.

No problemo. Oh dear, I’m afraid I’ve used this one and will take myself off to Siberia at once.

If I hear another person say that a woman looks good for her age I will slap him or her around the face with a wet fish. I’m sure you don’t me to explain why.

Can anyone explain what a price point is?  Also, any ideas about colour way (as opposed to just colour)?

Welcome to my World.  You’ve just shared some bad news with me but I’m not really interested because it’s all about ME.

What’s I could care less about? People of America, desist.  Obviously, you mean “I couldn’t care less” meaning that you don’t care.  Because if you could care less, it means that you do care, at least somewhat.  Otherwise, how could you care less? I need to lie down.

What is it about being on the Jeremy Kyle show that means you have to repeat at the end of the day all the time?  Do you really think it closes down your argument? Perhaps it’s been written into your contract or something.

Obvious one: people – mainly young women, don’t ask me why – who insert like into every sentence.  It’s like Tourettes for tweenies and is often heard with rising intonation at the end of every sentence…like, you’re asking a question?

My bad.  I have literally no idea what this means and can’t be bothered to find out.

So, a bit of a list.  The worst one, though (or is it just me)…

The use of the first person plural regarding pregnancy.  Sorry, but we are pregnant is a medical impossibility and people who say it make me go all Norman Bates with the sheer superior smugness of it all.  It makes me think of huuuuuge pavement-hogging baby buggies and Boden catalogues.

It’s harsh but fair to say that anyone caught using any of these phrases will be made to sit in a room entirely empty apart from a tube of Pringles, surely the salty snack equivalent of heroin.  They will be allowed to eat just one, then forced to sit and contemplate the rest of the contents therein, yea verily until the end of time.

Sussex Copywriting Services, despite a tendency to rant, is a really nice company which writes effective SEO-enabled content for websites and all sorts of other work besides.  Don’t be scared, call 01273 721 306 to find out more.